Although I grew up in the Methodist church and probably went to a lent service or two, I vaguely have any memories of it. Even if I went, I’m sure I did not have a clue what was going on.
“Uhhh…are we supposed to give something up for lent like I did FOREVER when I was Catholic?”
“Yes, your IPhone.” (me)
“Bahaha! Ok…seriously…my pits are sweating and the memories of my upbringing is beginning to fan the flames of condemnation. I haven’t thought about what to give up?!?! I didn’t think Baptist did this-that is was a ‘Catholic members only club’ thing. I am just not prepared. They didn’t discuss this in our PVCC Church 101…I just feel unprepared”
The above message is a conversation that I had via text with a close friend of mine who is new to the Protestantism. (This is my same friend who asked if we have a “Baptist” bathing suit that she needs to purchase.) LOVE HER!!! Why in the world our church is having conversations about lent was very confusing to her.
No, you do not have to observe lent; you do not have to “give something up” in order to be in the club. On that note, just a reminder there is nothing we did to be a part of the club in the first place. Similarly, there are no dues we have to pay to remain in the club.
Initially I was very hesitant about “giving something up” because it starts to make me get all uncomfortable and legalistic sounding, and I don’t know what to do with it. The other reason for my skittishness is due to the fact that I generally fail at keeping resolutions of any kind at all. However, the Lord revealed to me how much I loved a certain something – too much. It became clear that I think I deserve this form of comfort, and even sometimes plan my life around making sure it happens.
Six hours into my “giving up” something, I caved. I told you I was bad at this. Epic failure??? Wait! Then, I realized that my failure is in some way the whole point of lent. It’s not about being perfectly self-controlled and awesome. No, the point is that even when you try “to do the good you want to do,” as Paul said in Romans 7, “You do what you don’t want to do.”
I’m really bad at lent; this is simply one more reason as to why I so desperately need Jesus. I couldn’t keep God’s law perfectly. I’ve not loved God with all of my heart, soul, and mind, and I’ve certainly not always loved my neighbor as myself. I’m a sinner who has fallen short in every regard. I’ve not just failed at lent, but I’ve failed in meeting all of God’s holy standards.
My response? Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for showing me once again that I am weak – that I often enjoy TV more than I enjoy you. That I often run to grab the remote before I grab your Word. Thank you that you are always on the station of GRACE.
Let us not make this season of lent about us.
“I gave up my I-PHONE, so I am so getting sticker on my Jesus chart.”
“I am so committed. I am so faithful. I am all over this sacrificing thing. I am so zealous.”
No. May this season of lent, we get over the “I’s” and lift our eyes to the throne and say, “I NEED YOU JESUS.”